Braidwood is Australia's first heritage-listed town. It's set on the Kings Highway between Canberra and Bateman's Bay and travellers now have a new reason to pull over, with the revitalisation of historic Mona Farm.
Founded by Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a ship's surgeon during the convict era, Mona Farm will sleep up to 44 in six of its farm buildings. The Homestead, built in 1853, and the 116-year-old Coach House have already seen their first guests. The Stables will be ready by mid-year, followed by the Shearers' Quarters, Cottage and the Old Stables.
Mona farm covers 50 hectares on Braidwood's outskirts and there are two ways to enter into the property: via a colonnade of 180-year-old elm trees, or over a gracefully arched stone Palladian bridge. Along the way, you'll spy some of its 20 or so sculptures by Australian and international artists, including two pieces by US sculptor Peter Lundberg, who poured his four-metre concrete circle, dubbed The Mona O, and 13-metre Dancing Man, directly into the farm's earth.
"[Mona Farm has] a secrecy and authenticity about it – it's a little rambling, with carpets of bluebells and its magnificent, 160-year-old hayshed," says owner Belinda Pulver who, with her husband, former rugby union boss Bill Pulver, bought the property for $5 million last year. Their artistic explorations continue inside, where rooms are filled with contemporary works from major artists such as Adam Cullen and Fiona Hall, and furniture from top Australian designers. "Adding contemporary art and furniture to the country estate highlights Mona Farm's history," says Belinda. "We feel a responsibility to take care of this property."
Guests can rent out one standalone building or the whole working cattle farm, with public music events and private weddings already on the bookings sheet. Stays in the Coach House, which sleeps nine, cost from $795 (midweek) while the Homestead, which sleeps 10, costs from $2500 (midweek). See monafarm.com.au